Welcome to the Amazon. Where everything is a luscious green, drinking water is a luxury, the electricity is questionable, and spiders the size of your fist join you at bedtime. What…exactly have I gotten myself in to? I must have asked myself this question dozens of times since leaving the comforts of Quito. There I hadn’t had to worry about there not being enough water to bathe in, or about my mother bringing out a plate of living, gigantic ants, – para comiendo (for eating)! Yes, my regular ways of living have had to be adjusted…just a smidge.
The Subcentro de Salud where I work has probably been the most eye opening difference though (well, if you can forget about the spiders). I have seen so many aspects of life that I feel could be improved upon. I wince as the ‘American hygenic and sanitation’ procedures are not followed, the patient confidentiality is ignored, and women come to us for the anti-conception vaccine; unaware of the health risks they are exposing themselves to by doing so. These are just a few of the objectives I have been thinking about and I find myself thinking, what can I do? Daily, I worry I’m not going to succeed at what I was sent here for. A heavy weight on my shouders I can never seem to shake.
But I keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. For now, the small things are the most important to focus on. For they create the foundaton of the projects far greater. Right now, I’m thinking about the small things that make such a difference to not only myself, but my family as well. I find myself most days balancing on a tight rope between hope and fear. Fear of the unknown. Finding hope in the small things. Such as a rainbow. Or a family trip.
I’m not sure about the other fellows, but I had been feeling detached and like I was a bother to my host family. Probably just my overreactive imagination, I am infamous for that. Anyway, this past week I was elated to learn my family was making yet another trip to Riobamba, the capital city of the province Chimborazo, and this time I was going to be included! I don’t know why I was so surprised, trips to Riobamba are quite common in my family as my host father’s family lives there, and my host mother goes a university very close to the house of my father’s family.
After the 5 hour bus ride to Chimborazo I was very tired, but extremely excited to find myself in another region of Ecuador. During that weekend I met my extended family, and got to observe another method of living. I marvled how the urban parts of Ecuador are so influenced by the culture of the United States. Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl’ blares through the speakers of one tienda, contrasting with Don Omar’s ‘Danza Kuduro’ from the next. The people walk around with shirts decorated in English text, and the clothing store’s propaganda scream ‘HOLLISTER’ or ‘AMERICAN EAGLE.’
As time progresses, the country is changing. This has given me food for thought. About exactly what I am doing here in Cotundo. The people beg me to tell them about the United States and my home. They are desperate to learn English and be a part of the rapidly growing society they hear or read about daily via the American News Press. We as Global Citizens, are a part of this change. I am simply one of the small things.